The man with the gun asks Pino who sent him. Pino responds truthfully and the man lowers the gun. He introduces himself as Bergstrom, the man Pino is looking for. Bergstrom tells Pino he can take Luigi, Maria, and Ricardo the rest of the way. Before going their separate ways, everyone says goodbye and Luigi gifts Pino a fancy cigar. After, Pino makes his way back to Madesimo to rest at the inn. He is exhausted, but proud of himself for helping people and fighting back against the Nazis. Before reaching Madesimo, Pino stops to rest. From his position he can see four men with guns walking in the Val di Lei. He wonders whether they saw him.
Pino feels as though he has a renewed sense of purpose after successfully completing his escort mission. Rather than sitting out the war, Pino is now a part of it, and he is fighting on the morally just side. However, the men walking with guns through the Val di Lei are a bad omen, which foreshadow trouble on the horizon.
Pino makes his way into Madesimo where he finds Alberto. Alberto tells him that partisans stopped in the village the previous evening. Although the partisans claimed to be fighting the Nazis, they asked a lot of questions about Jews. At the same time, Nicco is standing nearby showing an egg-shaped object to a few other kids. Suddenly, the egg-shaped object explodes, taking off part of Nicco’s face and injuring the other children as well. Pino picks up Nicco and rushes him back to his parents at the inn. Before anything can be done to help Nicco, he convulses and dies. Mr. Conte, the innkeeper, as well as Nicco’s father, asks Pino to fetch Father Re to bless Nicco’s body. Exhausted and upset, Pino makes his way back to Casa Alpina to find Father Re.
The partisans are the Italian resistance, fighting against both the Italian fascists and the Nazis. However, the men who stopped in Madesimo don’t appear to be real partisans. The egg-shaped object Nicco picks up is a grenade, carelessly left behind by one of the fake partisans. Although death was already a significant part of the novel, this is the first time a person dies who Pino knows and it affects him more than anything else up to this point in the story.
Pino returns to Casa Alpina and reports to Father Re. After, Father Re departs for Madesimo and Pino goes inside. Seeing the state of his brother, Mimo helps Pino to the shower to clean Nicco’s blood off of him. Later, Father Re returns and tells Pino he needs to rest because he’ll have two more Jewish people to escort the following day. Over the next few months, Pino helps escort Jewish people to safety almost daily. He also teaches some of the other boys, including Mimo, how to undertake the escort missions so they can help as well. Father Re is happy with their success but worries that the Nazis are becoming suspicious because they’ve been unsuccessful in their hunt for Jewish people. Pino hopes the war will be over soon, but he knows from listening to the radio that the Allies are not making much progress against the German front.
Pino is in shock after Nicco’s sudden and violent death. Mimo demonstrates his maturity by helping his older brother. However, the novel doesn’t linger on this tragic event for long and instead switches its focus to Pino’s many escort missions. Pino acts as a leader for the other boys at Casa Alpina, making him a critical part in the operation. However, he is also beginning to understand his previous ignorance about the state of the war, as it doesn’t seem as though it will end soon.
Winter arrives and after a brief trip home for Christmas, Pino and Mimo spend it at Casa Alpina. One night, Alberto invites Pino to a party at the inn in Madesimo. Pino accepts the invitation. The party is great, and Pino is happy. However, the party is interrupted by a group of men with guns claiming to be partisans. They force everyone to “donate” to their cause, essentially robbing them at gunpoint. The leader of the group spots Pino and tells him that he’s seen him walking along many of the nearby trails. He tells Pino to stay off the trails and then steals his boots and money. Later, Pino learns the man’s name is Tito and that the group only pretends to be partisans when they are really just criminals. On top of everything else, it is a member of Tito’s group who left the grenade that killed Nicco.
Tito’s group are opportunists who barely bother to disguise the fact that they aren’t partisans. They are also reminiscent of the men who Pino recalls seeing in the Val di Lei after his first escort mission. Also, they pose a problem for Pino’s missions going forward, as it’s apparent that their threats are serious, and they are not afraid to use violence to get what they want.